Abraham Kuyper.

Encyclopedia of sacred theology : its principles ... online

. (page 46 of 64)
Online LibraryAbraham KuyperEncyclopedia of sacred theology : its principles ... → online text (page 46 of 64)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

of speech also that the inworking has taken place in the cen-
trum itself of the human consciousness, and from thence ex-
tended itself to the organs of speech. This, however, by no
means excludes the speaking through the organ of speech of
a human being without having the action go out to his organ
of speech. It is well known how, in magnetic sleep, one
person is able to accomplish this with the other. With


those who were possessed similar phenomena occur. In our
dreams also our organs of speech sometimes utter words
which at least do not rise from our normal consciousness.
And the strongest proof for this lies in the speaking with
the glossolaly, by which the mouth uttered words which
were entirely foreign to the thought-sphere of the speaker.
Analogous to this is the speaking that has sometimes been
taught to birds, and which from the side of God occurs in
the significant speaking of the ass of Balaam. All these I
analogies show that the organs of speech of one can enter'
the service of the consciousness of another ; as, for instance,
when one who knows no Latin and has no understanding of
medicine has been magnetized, and dictates a prescription
Avhich not he but his magnetizer has thought out.

The external address bears another character, and is even
said to be (Num. xii. 8) " mouth to mouth," or also (Exod.
xxxiii. 11) to take place "face to face." Here the emphasis
falls not upon what man speaks after the suggestion of God,
but upon what he hears, even in such a way that the by-
standers also can hear it. This is most clearly seen in Exod.
xix. 9, where the Lord says to Moses : " That the people
may hear when I speak with thee." This direct address
appears equally clearly in the speaking from Sinai to the
people, of which we read in Deut. v. 26 : " For who is there
of all flesh that hath heard the voice of the living Crod speak-
ing out of the midst of the fire, as we have ? " An entirely
unique fact, spoken of with emphasis no less than four times.
With the call of Samuel the selfsame phenomenon appears.
Samuel heard the sound of a voice, which he first took to be
Eli's voice, and which only afterwards by the direction of
Eli was recognized by him as the voice of the Lord (1 Sam.
iii. 8, 9). What we likewise read of the voice of the Lord
at the baptism of Jesus, and from the cloud at His trans-
figuration, falls under the same category even as the speak-
insr of God to Adam after the fall, when he heard the voice
of the Lord walking in the garden upon the wind of the


day. With respect to this external address Num. vii. 89
is especially noteworthy, where the very place is indicated
from which the voice went forth. There we read: "Then
he (Moses) heard the Voice speaking unto him /row above the
mercy -seat that was upon the ark of the testimony, /rom between
the tivo cherubim; and he spake unto him." The distinc-
tion between this external address and the iriternal address
allied to it, exists principally in this, that Avith the internal
address the voice of the Lord is observed as coming up from
within, while with the external address a perception arises
that the sounds come from ivithout. At the foot of Sinai the
people hear the voice coming down to them from above.
Moses hears the voice come to him from between the
cherubim. Samuel observes the voice from the side of
Eli's chamber. At the ba]3tism of Jesus the bystanders
heard the voice from heaven. According to 2 Pet. i. 17,
Peter heard the voice on Tabor " from the excellent glory,"
etc. Of course the addresses of Jesus on the way to Damascus
and on the Island of Patmos do not lie in the same line.
After His ascension, Jesus bears somatically, also, our human
nature. The question with regard to His speaking from
heaven, therefore, is simply whether Jesus descended in order
to speak with Paul from the ordinary distance, or whether this
speaking took place in a way similar to what is indicated to us
by the telephone. With the speaking of God in the address,
on the other hand, the somatic remains wanting ; hence, also,
the organs of speech by which to form the words. The ques-
tion, therefore, here remains whether indeed this sound of a
voice was produced by the vibration of the air-waves, or
whether in the tympanum of the hearer a sensation was
occasioned similar to what we occasion by the inflection of
our voice. " He that planted the ear, shall he not hear ?
He that formed the eye, shall he not see? " (Ps. xciv. 9). Inj
like manner, is not God, who has established for us so wondrous
a relation of voice, organs of speech, waves of air, tympa-|
num, auditory nerve and consciousness, Himself able to use
each of these, His creatures, and apply them in like manner
as He appointed and maintains them for us from moment


to moment by His omnipresent omnipotence? There is no
room here for choice, since the more subjective interpretation
is equally intricate, or, if you please, equally divinely-natu-
ral, as the more objective. Neither does the occurrence on
the way to Damascus, when the bystanders about Paul did
not hear what he heard, offer any explanation ; simply be-
cause the speaking of the glorified Christ rests upon the
somatic basis, which is not present with God, and the tele-
phone even now shows how one can hear what the other
does not observe. Whether, therefore, the address was
accomplished by God's working on the air-waves, or merely
upon the tympanum, the same effect wrought by us when we
use our organs of speech, cannot be decided ; if only we hold
fast to the fact that the person addressed heard words in his
own language, in the same way as though he were spoken to
by his neighbor.

]\Ierely for the sake of completeness we add in the third
place the impulse. By itself the impulse is nothing else than
the " being moved " ((^epeaOac) of 2 Pet. i. 21, in entire agree-
ment with the "moving" DITS of Judg. xiii. 25. This " mov-
ing " indicates merely that the one moved has received a push,
a touch which has driven him out from his repose, in the full
sense " an impulse urging the mind." "And the spirit of God
came upon Saul " (PlSitril), in 1 Sam. xi. 6, has precisely the
same meaning. The most forcible example of this impulse,
however, occurs in Jer. vi. 11 and Jer. xx. 9, collato 7 ; in both
of which Jeremiah testifies that he experienced in his heart
an impulse so overpowering that, try as he might, he was not
able to offer resistance to it until it became to him "as a
burning fire shut up in his bones." This impulse we num-
ber among the subjectively present means, for the reason that
the poet and artist in general speak of similar experiences.
In the " Deus est in nobis, agitante calescimus illo," an allied
sensation announces itself, which is even experienced by the
writer of prose, when, as the French call it, he moves en veine.
Such an impulse also forms the background of heroism.
The hero feels in himself an impulse to action which he


cannot explain, either from the world about him or from his
world within. To him as well as to the artist this impulse is
a mystery. The question whether such an impulse from the
world of mysteries is not connected with the basis of genius
in such select spirits, need not detain us here. Nothing pre-
vents us from allowing that such a basis was also present in
the whole personality of Jeremiah. He even knew himself
to be prepared for his calling from his mother's womb. But
even if this impulse in connection with inspiration is noth-
ing else than the use of what is present in the subject, and
the application of that for which he had the susceptibility, this
impulse here bears nevertheless a peculiar stamp, insomuch
as it always occurs as an impulse of the Holy Ghost. This
is a closer definition, which certainly concedes the fact
that God the Lord can cause such an impulse to come to
us in the centrum of our psychical life ; but now employs
it for a definite purpose, limits it to the sphere of the holy,
and places it in connection with the entire plan of Reve-
lation, which He is in the act of giving. The " clothing "
(^5b), however closely allied to the " moving " (D3?B), may
not be placed on a line with the impulse. The former indi-
cates the sensation, by which he who was apprehended feels
himself enveloped and overcome as by an unknown power.
It refers to a sensation, which, far from being an incitement
to action, rather impedes and paralyzes. The Q>'S makes
active, the ^5/ passive.

The second class of subjective means of inspiration in-
cludes the tardemah, " sleep " (H^^nn), the chalom, " dream "
(Dlbn), and the chazon, "vision'* (ptH).

The Tardemah, which occurs with Adam in Gen. ii. 21,
Abraham in Gen. xv. 12, and Saul in 1 Sam. xxvi. 12, is men-
tioned as a deep sleep, which falls upon a person from with-
out. "Fall" ('^Bi) is the constant word with which this
" sleep " is construed, and while at one time it says that the
Lord caused such a sleep to fall, at another time it says
(1 Sam. xxvi. 12) that this deep sleep from the Lord had


fallen upon them. The same word occurs in Job iv. 13 and
xxxiii. 15 to indicate a very deep sleep, which falleth upon
7nen, in slumberings upo7i the bed, but as shown by tlie connec-
tion in both cases, as a prelude to a Divine revelation ; while
in Isaiah xxix. 10 such sleep is mentioned in an unfavorable
sense, by way of a figure, to express a spirit of entire dul-
ness and insensibility which should be poured out upon the
people. This last, therefore, is a sleep in a metaphorical
sense, for which reason it reads "the spirit of deep sleep,"
and consequently "pour" ("|D3), and not "fall" (^S3),
is used as verb. In all other places, on the other hand, the
Tardemah is taken in its real sense, and occurs again and
again as an absolute ansesthesis, which is effected by God
upon the person, in order in this entirely passive state to
cause an entirely other world to reveal itself to his inner con-
sciousness, or as was the case with Adam, to operate upon
him in a violent way. The narcotic sleep offers itself as
analogy to this, and especially in the case of the violent
operation which Adam underwent, one thinks naturally of
the condition produced by chloroform or of the first effects
of strychnine. But though it appears from these analogies
that human nature is susceptible to such a state of absolute
insensibility, the action which took place remains never-
theless an effect of what God directly wrought, and so
far as the nature of the psychical life during this sleep
is concerned, it is an action of a different sort. It makes
the impression of an entire liberation of the psyche from the
connection which through the bod}^ it has with its surrounding
world : a leading back of the psychic life into its centrum,
and in that centrum a disclosure to the psyche of a mys-
terious world, in which God comes to it and speaks to it.
A form of revelation particularly noteworthy, because evi-
dently this Tardemah does not enter into this life, but iso-
lates the person, to whom the revelation comes, from this
life, and then deals with him according to the law which
applies to another than this earthly existence.


The " dream " bears a different stamp. In the first place,
here sleep or slumber maintains its common character;
and, secondly, revelation-dreams exhibit almost always the
form of our common dreams, in so far as in these dreams
also an isolated drama is seen by the ego of the dreamer.
The world of dreams is still a mystery to us. No one
can tell whether in sleep one dreams only when 021 awak-
ening one remembers it, or whether one always dreams
when asleep but that as a rule in awaking one has no
remembrance of it. Our dreams bear very different char-
acters. In the common dream all connection is wanting
with the actual condition, consisting in the fact that we lie
in bed ; but with the nightmare one dreams mostly of excit-
ing experiences which overtake us while we lie there. In
what is more slumber than sleep we dream that we lie awake
and are not able to get asleep. He who saw us slumber
knows that we slept, but to us no transition took place from
our da}' into our night consciousness. The content of our
dreams generally is made up from images and remembrances
which lie in orderly arrangement in our mind, but now
appear ofttimes before us in entirely different combinations.
Generally the outlines of the images in our dreams are vague,
but often they are so sharply drawn, especially in the night-
mare, that what we see we could readily reproduce in a
drawing. There are dreams which as mere play of the
imagination pass away ; but there are also dreams which
work lasting effects, which discover one to himself, and
dreams which are not free from guilt. Holy and demo-
niacal influences often work side by side in our dreams.
Whether indeed this wondrous world of our dreams simply
shows the aimless movement of the images in us, or whether
these dreams are the result of the activity of our spirits in
our sleep, and constitute a component part of the spirit's
activity, remains an absolute secret to us. This, however,
may be said, that our dreams cannot be verified by us, that
they are not consciously produced by us, but that they leave
the impression of a drama shown to us by some one outside
of ourselves, in which we ourselves are concerned, without


knowing how, and by which an outside power leads us invol-
untarily into scenes which arise without our aid.

It must not be said, however, that the dream in reve-
lation is nothing else than a common dream, in which, sim-
ply, other images appear. Not in the ordinary sense, but
undoubtedly in a pregnant sense (sensu praegnanti), it is
said in 1 Sam. xxviii. 6 : " And when Saul inquired of the
Lord, the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams, nor
by Urim, nor by prophets." Three distinct revelation-forms
are here mentioned in which Saul might have received an
answer, and of these three the dream is one. And it is note-
worthy that next to false prophets the pseudo-dreamers also
are separately mentioned as " the dreamers of dreams " in
Deut. xiii. 1, 3. Hence he who dreamed such a dream did
by no means at his awakening entertain the opinion that it
had been a common dream, which he could safely pass by
and forget ; but he lived under the impression that something
had been shown or told him which was possessed of symbolic
or actual reality. The difference, therefore, between these
two kinds of dreams was clearly perceived. This much,
indeed, may be said, that in the scale of the means of reve-
lation " the dream " does not stand high. The " dream "
is, indeed, the common means of revelation for those who
stand outside of the sacred precincts, such as Abimelech, Pha-
raoh, Nebuchadnezzar. The false prophets imitated nothing
so easily as the dream (see Jer. xxiii. 32) ; and according as
the revelation becomes richer and clearer, the dream becomes
rarer. Neither with Moses, nor with the Christ, nor with
the apostles do we find the dream mentioned as a revelation-
form. When this dream was real, it consisted in this, that
in the dream God appeared and gave His charge. When it
was half-symbolic, as at Bethel, then the appearance of God
took place in a given surrounding. And if it Avas purely
symbolical, as with Pharaoh, then it needed the interpreta-
tion (piri2), and was in itself unintelligible and incomplete.
Revelation, therefore, by the symbolical dream consists of
two parts : the dream itself and its interpretation, both
of which bear a supernatural character. Every effort to

492 § 82. THE INSTRUMENTS OF INSrillATlON [Div. Ill

explain the iiiteipietatioii as a simple application of the
rules of symbolism is vain, from the fact that in the case
of both Joseph and Daniel the interpretation of the dream is
not given by those who were versed in symbolism, but they
were unable to do this, and it is given only by men who stood
outside of this peculiar science, and who frankly declared
that this interpretation was no fruit of their ingenuit}^ but
of Divine suggestion. The peculiar character of the revela-
tion-dream, therefore, consisted in this, that the person to
whom it came saw, indeed, the scene or drama in a similar
way as with so-called common dreams, in his night-con-
sciousness ; but what he saw and heard was 7io product of
the hidden workings in his own psychical life, but of an act
of God in him. That, nevertheless, the drama in these
dreams was generally formed from remembrances and images
that were present in the memory and in the imagination of
the dreamer, does not conflict with this in 'the least. As
with internal address and external address the conceptions
and words maintain the connection with the subjective nature
of the person addressed, it is self-evident that a similar con-
nection existed in the dream between what was present in
the subjective imagination as constitutive element, and what
God showed him. Only thus was it rational.

The vision bears almost the same character as the dream,
with this difference, however, that the dream occurs when
one sleeps, while the vision appears on the horizon of our
inner consciousness when one is awake. As little as the
dream, however, is vision a phenomenon foreign to our nat-
ure, which occurs exclusively in the economy of revelation.
What is exceptional, therefore, by no means lies in the vision,
but in this, that God the Lord makes use of the visionary capa-
city of our psyche, by which to introduce something into our
consciousness. It must be granted that the dream is more com-
mon than the vision, but this is no proof that the visionary does
not belong to our nature. No one, indeed, will exclude from
our human nature a thirst and talent for art, even though this


aesthetic power, with most people, never passes the poten-
tial stage; and such is the case with the visionary' capacity.
Whether or not it will discover its existence depends npon
the inner and outward disposition of the person. In the East
the chance for this is better than in the West. The Semitic
race developed this capacity more strongly than the Indo-
Germanic. By one temperament its development is favored ;
by another weakened. In times of excitement and gen-
eral commotion, it is more usual than in days of quiet and
rest. He who is aesthetically disposed becomes more readily
visionary than the intellectualist. Sensitive nerves court the
vision more than what have been called nerves of iron. Psy-
chically diseased conditions are more favorable to the vision-
ary than the healthy and normal ; and often before dying a
peculiar visionary condition appears to set in, which is ex-
ceedingly worthy of note. Vivid imagination forms the
transition between the common wakeful consciousness and
real vision, which operates in a threefold form. It is strong-
est when one becomes agitated by a phantom, especially
when this is occasioned by an evil conscience. Macbeth
sees everywhere the image of Duncan, the king he murdered,
and in his inquiry whether that image is real, he is unable
to distinguish appearance from reality. Of an entirely dif-
ferent nature is what is called "absent-mindedness," i.e. a
life in another world than the real, either as the result of
much study and thought, or of the reading of history or
novels. This is carried so far by some people, that the very
members of their family affect them strangely at times, and
they imagine themselves to be in the company of their novel he-
roes. Finally the third form is the vision of the artist, in whose
spirit looms the image, which from his spiritual view li£ will
paint on the canvas or chisel in marble. But these are not
visions in the real sense, since the horizon of our inner view
here still remains subject to the verification of our conscious-
ness. And this is the very thing lost with vision. Images
and forms then rise before us, Avhich force themselves upon us
as an outside power, repress the autonomous activity of our
imagination, and bring us outside of ourselves. Then one


is awake, and sits, stands, walks, or rides, and meanwhile
loses himself, and sees sometimes close at hand sharply out-
lined images in colors and in forms, which, even when the
vision departs, leave him a sharp and clear impression, so
startlingly vivid that he can scarcely make himself believe
it was not reality. Hyperesthesis can introduce such illusory
conditions, and can even assume the form of monomania
and be a precursor of insanity. In the " Fixed Idea "
(Zwangvorstellung), also, a visionary image may obtrude
itself upon us against our will. And finally we observe,
that vision occurs in rest, in action, in dialogue, and even
with the adoption of the person in the drama of the vision.
But in whatever form it occurs, it is always character-l
istic of the vision that the person who sees it ceases to be]
master in his own consciousness and in his own imagination, j
and is nothing but a spectator, while another power is active \
within him.

With this general discrimination of that which is visual, it
is not in the least surprising that in the Holy Scripture the
vision is also attributed to false prophets (Is. xxviii. 7, Jer.
xiv. 14, Ezek. xii. 24, etc.), and that outside of Scripture
even, in history, the visionary plays such an important
role. When, therefore, in the Holy Scripture the vision
(jlin and niTO, Gen. xv. 1) appears as a fixed form, espe-
cially of prophetical revelation, it must not be taken as though
there were anything uncommon in this vision ; but it should
be understood in the sense that God the Lord made use of
the capacity for visions in man in order to reveal to us His
will and His counsel. At best it may still be remarked that
the revelation vision often appears with a certain connexity
and continuity. Not some strange vision now, and again
one some years after, but the vision is constantly repeated in
a definite series, even introduced by a vision of a call, by
which all the visions become together the successive acts
of one mighty drama. Thus construed, the visionary phe-
nomena are certainly subjected to a governing power, while
the visions themselves have nothing uncommon about them.
That which is uncommon consists exclusively in this, that


God the Lord announces Himself in the vision, that it is
He that shows what is seen, and that the visionary person
knows that he is dealing with God.

Of the content of the vision, it may be said that the same
remarks apply to it as apply to that of the " dream." The con-
tent is generally composed from the data which were present
in the imagination or in the memory of the visionary person ;
but from these data a new drama is composed, and in this
way all sorts of mysteries of the counsel of God are shown.
The difference, however, between the prophetic and apoca-
lyptic vision is apparent. In the first the vision joins itself
to the historic reality, in the midst of which the prophet
lives, while in the Apocalypse the drama arises from the
hidden world and moves towards him. For which reason
the forms and images in the prophetic vision are mostly
known and common, while in the apocalyptic vision the
images are monstrous, or appear in a wondrous manner, and
sternly set themselves against every effort to reduce them to
a figure intelligible to us. Recall, for instance, the cheru-
bim in Ezekiel, or the appearance of Christ to John on
Patmos, as sketched in Rev. i. 13-16. The content, however,
of such a vision is not always dramatically realistic, so that
it contains both speech and action. There are also visions
that are purely symbolical (such as the well-known visions
of the olive tree, the flying scroll, etc., of Zechariah),
which, just like the symbolical dream, miss their aim unless
an interpretation accompanies them. Wherefore, both in
Zechariah and in the Apocalypse of John we find this sym-
bolic vision constantly followed by its interpretation.

The ecstasy needs no separate treatment here ; later, in con-
nection with prophetical inspiration, it will come in its own

Online LibraryAbraham KuyperEncyclopedia of sacred theology : its principles ... → online text (page 46 of 64)